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August 1, 2006 > The Rosemary and Gene Ramsell family

The Rosemary and Gene Ramsell family

Alois Sesse came from Switzerland in 1911 to join fellow dairymen at Holtville in California's Imperial Valley. He returned to Switzerland in 1918 and married Rosalie Bucher. They returned to Holtville in 1921 and he resumed his career at the diary farm. Their daughter Rosemary was born in 1922, followed by brother, Louis, two years later.

The family returned to Switzerland in 1930 and Rosemary entered the same school her parents once attended. However, Alois soon brought his family back to Holtville. He sold his interest in the dairy, moved to Banta and then to nearby Tracy. In 1931, he went to work at the Hansen and Orloff Dairy in Pleasanton. Rosemary attended Pleasanton School and was voted queen of Fiesta Del Vino, an event held in conjunction with the Alameda County Fair. She was the last girl to be so honored.

The family moved again about seven years later, settling at the Mowry Dairy Farm in Newark. Alois' salary was $35 per month plus his board and a house for his family. Rosalie cooked three meals a day for 16 dairy workers. Rosemary entered Washington High School as a junior and graduated in 1940. She sometimes served as substitute cook at the dairy.

Rosemary met Gene Ramsell who grew up in Irvington and worked at the Cloverdale Creamery. His grandfather, William, was a trustee of Mission San Jose School in 1868. Rosemary and Gene were married in 1941 at St. Edwards Church in Newark and established their home in an apartment on Main Street in Centerville. Their rent was $15 a month at first, but was raised to $25.

After Rosemary became pregnant, Cloverdale Creamery raised Gene's salary so he could afford the rent increase. The Ramsells first child was born in Centerville in 1942, they named him Gene. A short two years later, Gene Sr. was drafted into the Navy in 1944 where he served until 1946. While he was gone, Rosemary worked as a waitress and cook at Roethlin's Cafˇ in Irvington.

Once finished with his military service, Gene and Rosemary bought a piece of land on Elm Street from Earl Hygland. They built a house and moved in 1949. Daughter Jerilyn was born in 1949 and Marilyn in 1954. They attended Holy Spirit Elementary School and Washington Union High School. Gene attended Centerville Elementary School and graduated from Washington High School.

Along with their faithful volunteer work with Holy Spirit Church, the Ramsell family supported several other local organizations. Rosemary served as PTA president and coordinator of the Holy Spirit fashion show and festival. She also worked as a polling place inspector for local elections for over 50 years. Most notably, Rosemary has been a member of the Aelpler Gruppe Club, owners of the Swiss Park, for 50 years and served as treasurer for 12 years. She wrote a column called "Swiss Park Chitchat" for the "Swiss Journal" for about 40 years.

Rosemary became a travel agent and tour conductor in 1964. She would go on to lead large groups of tourists to many parts of the world. Although she was given a huge retirement party in 1996, she still remains an active tour conductor.

Gene and Rosemary are very proud of their family. Son Gene followed his dad into the Navy. He married Jeanne O'Hare and they raised four boys, Darrell, Carl, Jon, and Brian. Gene went on to work for the Newark fire department and became an assistant fire chief.

Jerilyn married James Kroske and they raised two girls, Lisa and Rebecca. Jerilyn became a beautician and helped her husband earn his pharmacy degree at Idaho State University.

Marilyn married Herb Manchester; they have a son named Matthew. She worked for both Butterick and Vogue magazines in fashion marketing for 23 years. Presently, she works at her brother-in-law's pharmacy.

Seemingly ageless, Rosemary continues keeping the books at Swiss Park and still conducts tours for Fugazi Travel in San Francisco. These aren't just short-hop, local trips either. She left at the end of July for a group tour of Switzerland.

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